Our blow-by-blow look back at an exciting 2023 AO where we saw a bit of everything: well-known names tightening their grip on historical records, new names making their mark and the technologically forward organizers showcasing electronic line calls, super screens and music at the 'Happy Slam'.
Highlights of the exceptional tennis from the first junior Slam of 2023:
OUT OF THE BLOCKX
- This could just be just the boost former #TEJT stalwart Alexander Blockx (pictured) is looking for, having been a champion at Bolton, QF at TIM Essonne and doubles runner-up in Tarbes.
- He becomes the first-ever Belgian to win the boys’ singles title at the AO, and only the third-ever Belgian junior Slam winner
- Blockx battled to a 6-1 2-6 7-6(9) nail-biting final win over Learner Tien of the USA, a grudge match of sorts after having gone down to the American in the doubles final.
KORNEEVA CROWNED QUEEN
- Alina Korneeva (pictured) scored a 6-7(2) 6-4 7-5 comeback win over bestie Mirra Andreeva to take the title in over three hours
- Korneeva at just 15 years of age won the title on her third match point
- Her #TEJT wrap sheet includes a win at the Christmas Cup and an EJC silver medal, both in 2021 at the 14&U level
THE BEST OF THE REST
- Seven out of the eight girls’ quarterfinalists were European
- Ranah Akua Stoiber (GBR) reached the Semis, while highest European seed Tereza Valentova (2, CZE) fell at the QF stage
- Top-seeded boy Kilian Feldbausch (SUI) was also a quarterfinalist, upset by 11th-seed Zhou of China
- 16&U #TEJT Player of the Year in 2021 Tomasz Berkieta (POL) fell to Tien in the semis
- More success came in the doubles with an all-European pairing taking out the girls’ title and representation in the boys’ final.
- Boys’: Learner Thien (USA)/Cooper Williams (USA) def. Alexander Blockx (BEL)/Joao Fonseca (BRA) 6-4 6-4
- Girls’: Renata Jamrichova (SVK)/Federica Urgesi (ITA) (pictured) def. Hayu Kinishota/Sara Saito (JPN) 7-6(5) 1-6 10-7
Europeans were protagonists in all but one of the finals. Some familiar names remain up in lights, etching their name in history, while some newcomers and other youngsters made their presence felt.
- All the superlatives have been exhausted while documenting Novak Djokovic’s dominance while claiming “the biggest victory of my life, given the circumstances.” GS number 22 and AO number 10 came at the expense of Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, denied for a second time in a major final by the Serbian legend 6-4 7-6(4) 7-6(5), who will return to the number one position in the rankings. Post-match the Djoker had some sound advice to dish out, “The message for any young player around the world: dream big because everything is possible, don’t let anybody take away your dream … the more difficulties and challenges you have, the stronger you become.”
- Rising star Holger Rune tasted bitter defeat in a match tie-break against Andrey Rublev, while a resurgent Karen Khachanov made his second successive major semifinal.
- Four-time #TEJT trophy winner Jiri Lehecka (CZE) was a surprise quarterfinalist. The 21-year-old was downed by Tsitsipas.
- The top two seeds, Rafa Nadal (ESP) and Casper Ruud (NOR) made early exits, both falling in Round 2.
- The exuberant Aryna Sabalenka played her first major final and went all the way to move up to world #2. She beat the reigning Wimbledon champ Elena Rybakina (KAZ) 4-6 6-3 6-4 to win in front of an electric crowd, “I felt the support. Australia loves me… I love this place!”
- Pole Magda Linette played her first-ever Slam semi, but was downed by Sabalenka, while Victoria Azarenka was vying for a place in a third AO final, before her hopes were dashed by the Kazakh.
- Former #TEJT number 1 Linda Fruhvirtova made headlines by reaching R4 where she was outslogged by Donna Vekic in a tough three-setter. Younger sister Brenda qualified for the main draw, as did compatriot Sarah Bejlek, with both former #TEJT stars falling at the first hurdle. Nevertheless, their future, and that of Czech tennis, looks extremely bright.
- Surprising losses came as Iga Swiatek (POL) lost in R4 to Rybakina, Maria Sakkari (GRE) fell in R3 and Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP) failed to advance past R1.
- Men’s Final: Aussie wildcards Rinky Hijikata & Jason Kubler were too strong for Hugo Nys (MON)/Jan Zielinski (POL) 6-4 7-6(4)
- Women’s Final: Barbora Krejcikova (CZE)/Katerina Siniakova (CZE) won their seventh Slam title, beating Shuko Aoyama (JPN) & Ena Shibahara (JPN) 6-4 6-3
- Mixed Doubles: Luisa Stefani & Rafael Matos (BRA) def. Sania Mirza & Rohan Bopanna (IND) 7-6(2) 6-2